Rahul Gandhi seems to be copying from Modi's playbook. Here's how
Rahul Gandhi campaigns in Bidar, Karnataka on Tuesday. Photograph: (ANI)
Wionews.com had reported Monday how Rahul Gandhi, as Congress President, would run a more centralised office than his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi. Sources had told wionews.com that Rahul would discontinue the office of a Congress political secretary.
The sources said Rahul's office has been modelled on the "hub-and-spoke" model, under which small "hubs" report directly to the central hub rather than to senior functionaries, who would then report to the Congress President.
This hub and spoke model, wionews.com reported, would keep decision-making in Rahul's purview.
Wionews.com added that strict instructions had been issued to the people working in Rahul's office to not give interviews to the media.
Modi of course has not addressed a press conference in the close to four years that he has been in power, and has given very few interviews. The prime minister prefers to talk to the people of India via his monthly Mann ki Baat radio address and social media.
Interestingly, when Modi first came to power, news reports had talked of how all power was being centralised in the Prime Minister's Office. Some reports went so far as to say the centralisation of power was slowing down decision-making -- since all decisions were made in the PMO -- under Modi.
Rahul -- who visited a large number of temples during the Gujarat elections and continues to do while campaigning in Karnataka -- has already been accused of practising a "soft" Hindutva. In Gujarat, for example, while he tried to cobble together a disparate group -- the Patels, the Dalits -- under his umbrella, he said nothing of the Muslims.
The Congress reply to the charge was that it did not wish to polarise the Hindu vote bank (against it) before the election.
Rahul finally broke his silence on his temple visits on Monday. "I like going to temples, wherever I get a religious place I go there. I feel good and feel happy, and I will continue (to go)," he said.
Rahul of course is allowed to visit whichever temple he might wish to (with or without a tilak; see photo above) but the embrace of places of worship and soldiers tends to be the forte of right-wing governments.
Even with soldiers, Rahul has begun to hit strident notes.
On Tuesday, after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said Pakistan "will pay" for the attack on the Sunjuwan army camp in Jammu -- in which five soldiers and the father of a soldier were killed -- Rahul tweeted:
1. PDP says “talks” with Pakistan.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 13, 2018
2. BJP Defence Minister says "Pakistan will pay the price".
While our soldiers pay with their blood for BJP/ PDP’s opportunistic alliance and non-existent Kashmir policy; Modi Ji dithers.
Again on Tuesday, he took a Modi barb aimed at the Nehru-Gandhi family and tried to turn it against the prime minister himself. Modi had recently said in Parliament that nothing had been done in the country for 70 years (the majority of which had seen Congress governments in power).
While campaigning in Karnataka, Rahul said:
When Modi Ji says that nothing was done in this country for last 70 years, he is disrespecting your parents, ancestors and the farmers. A country is not run by a single person: Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Bidar, Karnataka pic.twitter.com/JBYRhtX11x— ANI (@ANI) February 13, 2018
The spin by Rahul was reminiscent of the prime minister's own spinning of Mani Shankar's Aiyar's comment about him.
Aiyar had called Modi a "neech" person. Modi took the comment to the voters of Gujarat, saying Aiyar had called him a low-caste, and that he had insulted not only him but also the people of Gujarat.